Saturday, December 31, 2011

Do the Math

Yesterday morning:
     Jericho temperature--minus 1
     Venice temperature--60 and sunny

This morning:
     Jericho--34 degrees, freezing rain
     Venice--62 degrees, partly cloudy

There are certainly many who love the Vermont winter, who rejoice in snow for skiing, or who relish the darkness as a period of drawing inward.

I don't happen to be one of them.  However, with deep gratitude, I can now say that winter is my favorite season.

A place down the street, decked out for Christmas.

I have never seen so many things in bloom at this time of year.

The community pool has a decidedly un-Christmasy look.
There have been plenty of kids making use of it during this holiday vacation week.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's Over So Fast

Christmas morning...




And grandpa watches in wonder...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

christmas_tree.jpg (300×449)
 And to all those who celebrate differently this time of year,
Peace,  Joy,  Love

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lunch Ladies

My friend Donna hosted a lovely Christmas lunch for eight of us 60 somethings and one delightfully well-behaved four year old.  I kick myself for forgetting to take my camera because her house was perfectly decorated.  It would be hard to spend an afternoon there and not feel in the Christmas spirit.

Her house is always nicely decorated, but she goes all out for Christmas.  Her rooms are decorated according to themes.  So the Adirondack room has a tree with canoe ornaments and all the Santas are fishing or hunting in their L.L. Bean plaid togs.  Her Victorian room has a tree and angel decorations.  And so it goes.  All so tastefully done.  She is one artistic lady.  I can only marvel.

Everybody got an angel.



Now, this is an angel I found on a walk in the woods a few years ago.  I added a bit of decoration, but it was clearly an angel when I picked it up.  It even had a face.
No, really!  It is too an angel!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doctor Appointment Day

Mike had his check up after the last cardioversion--everything is A-OK.  I went with him to make sure he was not just giving me an overly optimistic report and I got the "A-OK" report directly from his doctor.  He just has to keep taking the handful of meds...but they are working.

As we left the doctor's office, I said, "At least now I know that you can shovel your own damn driveway." (Never mind that we actually share the driveway, and I actually go out more than he does in the winter time.)

Later, I had my eye examination.  No problems there...except those dilation eye drops do not seem to be wearing off.  Maybe I should just close my eyes and go to sleep for the rest of the night.  My eyes are perfectly healthy...I just can't see.  Oh, and those spiders I see running around on the wall or across the pillow every morning--just floaters.  Fortunately, I had already figured that out for myself.  It was the time I saw a spider running across Mike's back when I first woke up.  I stopped myself from screaming and thumping it
as Mike still slept.  Good move on my part.

I did finish a couple of good books this past week.  Three Junes by Julia Glass is a book I checked out of the library three times.  I did not get past the first few chapters until the third time, the charm.  I read the whole book and really enjoyed it.  Must be I just was not ready before.

I also read The Lace Reader.  I know, I know...it was on the NYT best seller list three years ago.  I take my time and don't just fall for all the trendy stuff.  Anyway, I really did enjoy this book--witches, mental illness, all kinds of abuse, suicide ideation, lost twins, religious fanaticism, psychic powers, romance--it had it all.  I wasn't even on the beach and I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another Chocolate Cake

A friend of mine gave me this recipe many years ago.  She called it Not To Be Believed Fudgy Chocolate Chickpea Cake.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, melted
2 cups well rinsed and drained chickpeas
4 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Generously grease a 9" round cake pan.
In a food processer, mix the melted chocolate chips and the chickpeas.
Add the remaining ingredients and process well.
Pour into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 45 minutes.

My friend says, "This cake needs no frosting."



Well, it may not need frosting, but it dosn't hurt it in any way.  My friend is the type who will have cut down on the sugar from the original recipe, I am quite sure.  Frosting and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream, I say.

No claims here that this is health food, but did you know:

Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans or bengal gram) are low in fat, cholesterol and sodium while high in fiber (29% of your daily need) and protein.  They also supply nutrients such as copper, folate and manganese.  I read about it here.

Chocolate contains polyphenols which is good for antioxidant properties.  It also supple essential minerals--calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.  Look here to check these facts.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Do you think Christmas is too commercial??

I like to visit the History.com site now and again.  Today I was wondering about the history of Christmas trees.  I had long been aware that there were numerous connections with pre-Christian cultural practices, but I wanted a refresher on some of those practices and the purpose behind them.

Well, lo and behold!  I learned something that was entirely new to me.  Christmas as we know it today was banned in Boston, as they say.  I guess it makes sense although for some reason I had never heard this before.  It seems that the Puritans so prevalent in New England felt quite strongly that heathen acts such as singing carols, decorating trees, or basically any kind of "joyful expression" of the season served only to make a mockery of a sacred event.  Church attendance was the only acceptable way to mark the day.  Anything else was subject to a fine.  I read about it here.

We are not putting up a tree this year.  It's not a statement about the sacredness or religious meaning of the day.  We did put up other decorations.  I am thinking it is a good thing we decided against the tree, though,  because Mother Nature is messing with our usual tradition.  There is very little snow.

There are no shortage of Christmas tree farms in our neighborhood.  We have always liked to go to a nearby farm and cut our own tree.  We are careful about picking the day--and no matter what the forecast may have been, the actual weather will be freshly falling snow that has deepened to knee level over night accompanied by frigid, howling winds.  Temperatures below the zero mark seem mandatory.  I am sure that day will come, but it has not arrived yet this year.  So Mike is spared lying under a tree with his shirt and jacket slipping up and his pants slipping down enough to freeze a section of backside as he struggles with a hacksaw and I, in an effort to hold the tree shower him with more falling snow in icy clumps.  But it is tradition!





























I do wonder how the Puritans might have reacted to someting like Black Friday.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sun and Snow


Last night, we had a first real snowfall of the season.  Only about an inch, but the trees look pretty.


This is what passes as a bright, sunny high noon in Vermont.  There are a few blue patches visible and the sun did peek out enough to cast a shadow or two.

 I told Mike I didn't think he should be out shovelling wet snow when he has not had his check up from the last cardioversion.  I went out to do it myself.  Fortunately, some random passerby felt the need to turn around in our driveway even though there is a paved public drive clearly visible 100 yards down the road.  That added iced tracks to the job.  Exercise, good exercise for me.

I do love the look of fresh snow blanketing the world as much as anyone, but, seriously, this is what it really looks like before too long.  Gray and dirty, not so pretty at all.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Goofy Animals

For some reason, Brody thinks he is a lap dog.

Richard looks less than thrilled to be dressed in a Santa suit.

He is pretty docile and long-suffering, though.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Joy of Little Things

Yesterday there was a picture of toddler gratitude posted on Grandma's Briefs.  It is adorable.

Although I do have to say it is a perfect example of why I could never, ever be a pre-school teacher  Just the image of a group of three-year-olds stepping in paint (chocolate pudding?) to make footprints for this craft--shudder.

But the post did make me think about how I had spent Thanksgiving being grateful for family and friends, both near and far.  Not that that is a bad thing to do, but I didn't really give much thought to the little things.  If you are feeling safe and loved, fed and secure, little things can bring a bundle of child-like joy into life.

I think the world could use a bundle of child-like joy this holiday season.

Here is a little thing that I am grateful for: self-adhesive stamps.  Mike bought Holiday Bauble forever stamps and we put them on the cards to send out today.  Revealing that I am old, I do remember 3 cent stamps.  They steadily went up in price.  I remember that my depression-era-surviving parents were distressed by this, but at some point there came the trade-off--no longer having to lick (yucky) or otherwise moisten the stamps.  I don't even send out humongous numbers of cards, but self-adhesive stamps make my happy.

And then, there was the time when envelopes needed to be addressed by hand.  Writer's cramp waiting to happen.  How great is it that we can use a computer printer to pump out cards with the addresses from a list and our own return address?

I guess if I were really up to date, I would send out e-cards.